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January 21, 1999


'Why doesn't the Sena try reconverting Muslims?'

How Readers reacted to Varsha Bhosle's recent columns

Date sent: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 08:20:28 PST
From: "Shankar Venkataraman" <>
Subject: A recipe for Talibanisation


Congratulations on a balanced article. Wonders never cease, do they? A moderate article from you!

Of course, you are right when you say: "This banning business made me see that all dingbats are cut from the same cloth ". However, you do spoil it when you say: "Even so, proscription is not just a Sena thing. Indians have taken pains to foster an atmosphere where anybody can get up and start enforcing bans."

This is so typical of the apologist stance you have taken. The logic seems to be: (1) All Indians do it (2) Ergo, if the Sena does it -- that does not make their actions uniquely reproachable (3) If you have to criticise the ghaati lumpen -- reproach the whole country first.

If you feel that the Shiv Sainiks acted like thugs, you should have the guts to criticise them unequivocally (particularly since you do not believe in hiding your light under a bushel when it comes to most other things). You should not have to look around and say -- Oh! Jayalalitha does the same thing, look at the Congress etc. If any of these jokers pontificate from a pedestal (on this specific issue) like they are wont to, they can then be rapped on their knuckles or wherever else, but to use their misdeeds as some kind of blanket excuse to exonerate the Sena is juvenile.

Also, for someone who likes to air her opinion on everything under the sun, how come you are curiously silent about something so interesting (and topical since it pertains directly to the subject of your article) happening right under your nose? I am talking about the Sena's *proscription* against the visiting Pakistani cricket team and their cheap little stunts.

I have taken pains to mention my name at the end so that you may have no difficulty identifying which caste/community I am from. Some of your reactions to reader responses specifically allude to the respondent's community in a very mean way. I just wanted to make your task easier... :-)

Shankar Venkataraman

Date sent: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 09:44:33 -0600
From: Jayandran Palaniappan <>
Subject: A recipe for Talibanisation


The article was an eye-opener to Varsha's thinking. I have been reading her articles for an year and I thought that she was a die-hard Hindu fundamentalist. Now I realise that she is one among the majority of the Hindu people (who for some reason or the other are silent) who see merit in every issue and take a stand. I look forward to reading more objective articles from her. Continue the good work!

Jayandran Palaniappan

Date sent: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 15:51:55 -0000
From: HALPETH Mahesh <>
Subject: Talibanisation... Varsha Bhosle!!

Hi Varsha!

I read your column after a gap of seven weeks and practically went back to your previous ones. About conversions and the attack on Christians, leave the missionaries alone, they have done a lot for the down-trodden.

By the way, can anybody dare to ask the Muslims in India to convert to Hinduism? The majority of them were never Muslims, but converted forcibly during the Moghul rule on India. Rather than targeting the poor adivasis, why not take the matter to Ratnagiri and do a stint at re-converting the Muslims out there? But that will take guts!

Wake up Indians, we are going into the 21st century and we are still worried about our caste, creed & religion!


Date sent: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 10:26:08 -0500
From: Neelam Salwi <>
Subject: Talibanisation

Great column. What she says is very true. Instead of reconverting, the main thing to do would be to try and understand why these people are converting. What prompted them to take such drastic action? Very inspiring. But unfortunately, people who can make a difference won't be reading this column. They are too busy lying to the public. BTW, Varsha, what is Hindupadpadshahi?


Date sent: Sat, 9 Jan 1999 03:51:46 +0100
From: "Maliwal, Gopi" <>
Subject: Varsha's column on Gujarat


Before you plead for the sacking of the BJP govt in Gujarat, please check the facts (and not just rely on the English press). Everyone should condemn the violence -- but they need to look at the cause too. Our secularists in the media never tire to remind us that the Bombay bomb blasts were a reaction to the Babri demolition. Then, pray, why not apply the same rule -- justified or not - to the Hindu reaction as well??

What are the facts? According to the Gujarati press (and not all of them are run by the Sangh Parivar), a Hindu procession was attacked by Christian tribals in early December. There was also the case of the idols broken, as reported by Rediff a few days ago. The rally of Hindu tribals was stoned on that day and they retaliated. As Swapan Dasgupta had noted many years ago, when the majority community retaliates, the damage will always be higher for the minority whether it is in Bombay, Gujarat, Bihar, Karachi or Los Angeles. How come our press never reported about the attacks on the Hindu rally? And, why has everyone been silent about the deaths -- yes, 7 persons dead -- in a communal clash in Karnataka, and the sacking of the govt there?

And, the Bible burning. What are the facts? The 10-year-olds were each given a Bible with a statement in Gujarati that they were asked to sign and return. The statement (since published by many papers but apparently ignored by our English press or else they will have no ground to castigate the BJP) was to the effect that the students believed that the only way for their salvation lay in the acceptance of Jesus as saviour, etc. When the parents came to know of that, they all descended and burned only those Bibles (given to their children). What kind of school is this that indulges in such practices and plays tricks on innocent minds? Have we heard any protests, condemnation etc on this? Contrast this to the drama created by our secularist-brigade on the Sarswati Vandana or the proposal to include the Vedas, Upanishads and Gita in the school curriculum?

The same goes for the beating (by parents) of a school principal in Bihar after the allegation of child molestation surfaced against him. Anyone who is aware of our people will know that the same treatment would have been meted out to the person even if he were a Hindu.

And, the same canard was spread about the rape case in MP (VHP had nothing to do with that) and molestation in Haryana (where no molestation occurred and the dispute was about a purely secular thing -- property).

Have we seen any correction - not to talk about apology -- from our hate-BJP/VHP/RSS media on their false reporting? Of course, not. Although I fully agree with her opposition to fatwas of any kind by any side, it is a shame that Varsha Bhosle has joined this crowd on this phoney issue. By the way, how much space has been devoted by both our English and the so-called international media on the expulsion of the ENTIRE Pandit community from the Kashmir valley, the jobs/property/relatives lost and the overall miserable life as refugees for over 9 years in their own country? No wonder, no one listens to these partisans masquerading as champions of freedom, liberty and tolerance!!

Gopi Maliwal

Date sent: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 17:10:04 -0600
From: "Your Name Here" <>
Subject: Varsha Bhosle's use of the term "Mosie"

Could you please stop using the derogatory slang "Mosie" for Muslims. Like many others, I find this coinage offensive.

Date sent: Fri, 08 Jan 1999 16:41:37 PST
From: "kiran kumar" <>
Subject: Varsha's columns


At last there is one person who doesn't mind calling a spade a spade. This is a kind of rarity when 'secular' journalists are on the rise. Be it the issue of Fire or the Justice Srikrishna Commission views are forthright & bold by current 'secular' standards. Her exposure of the double standards in the Srikrishna Commission would have shocked everyone including me. Even though it is easy to be one of the 'secular' tribe( Just bash the Hindus & you are secular) Varsha has taken the other tough route. May Varsha's tribe increase.

To be frank, initially I was reluctant to read Varsha's columns assuming it would be the familiar saffron-bashing ones. But thankfully it is not! Keep it up Varsha. I don't mind being called communal for praising it!

Kiran, USA

Date sent: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 08:57:41 EST
Subject: Talibanisation


I really liked your article. When I was very young, my mother used to put an instant end to many quarrels and plots for revenge on my various "enemies" then, starting from by brother to other kids by asking the simple question, "Then what is the difference between them and you?" Surely we can be magnanimous without pandering the minorities? If we start resorting to hooliganism when will this end? Thank you for focussing on real issues.

Vijay S

Date sent: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 15:03:03 -0600
From: "Mathews Thundyil (TX)" <>
Subject: Talibanisation

Intellectual inconsistency, thy name is Bhosle.

Bhosle cannot make up her mind whether she supports rescinding the freedom of expression or not. Similarly, she has no respect for democracy and democratically elected governance -- in this article she demands the dismissal of the Patel government in Gujarat. The root cause of these issues is that the Constitution and the rule of law are not being upheld in India.

Let us not forget that this and most of the articles Bhosle writes on are issues of individual rights. I have a right to hold, voice and change my opinion as much as you or anyone else has. Similarly, I have the right to try and change your opinion as long as I do not violate your individual rights (for instance, through the use of force). If the issue is the "use of force" then we already have laws in place, let us use those laws. Bringing in laws on religion is just another attempt to pervert the Constitution and justify legal laziness on the part of the State. Bringing in laws on censorship is also an effort to withhold the rights of individuals. If we cannot trust people to think, can we trust them to vote? The line is thin.

The ignorant opinions from elected officials, and informed readers of this Website are disturbing and point to the malaise affecting our country: We do not value individual rights and the rule of law enough. The Constitution is malleable and politics is merely that of expedience.

Before anyone wants to question my patriotism and national spirit, I would like to refer them to the quote "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" and that a "personal attack is the sign of the absence of reason."

Either Bhosle is opposed to arson, assault, and slander or she is not.

Date sent: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 15:54:30 -0500
From: Gopal Ratnam <>
Subject: Varsha's Talbanisation

The first few paragraphs sounded dangerously like a well-balanced piece of writing from Bhosle, that is until you get to the paragraph about Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh.

Notice how Bhosle apportions blame on the publishers, Nehruwallahs, Indira Gandhi's admirers, the Congress party, and faceless corrupt politicians for being paranoid about Rushdie's ficitionalisation of politicians. But those who read the book, and I'm assuming Bhosle read it too, would notice too that she rather conveniently overlooked the character of Raman Fielding aka Mainduck, the leader of the Maharashtra Axis, who oh so closely shadows her favourite politician Thackeray! We are of course to believe that Thackeray and his followers were not perturbed by Raman Fielding's characterisation and did not cause the "invisibilising" (her word, not mine!) of the book in Maharashtra. Did she say the "invisibilising" of the book was not a Hindutva thing? Nice try.

Gopal Ratnam

Date sent: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 14:43:01 -0600
From: Sat Nashikkar <>
Subject: A recipe for Talibanisation

A sane voice emerges from the morass of cacophony. Let us all ponder on Tagore's words: "Where the mind is without fear..." As Bhosle aptly puts, This current "Shiv Shahi" is an insult to the creed and heritage of Shivaji.

Satyajit Nashikkar
Dallas, TX

Date sent: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 20:10:09 -0000
From: "ernest joseph" <>
Subject: A recipe for Talibanisation

I would like to comment on "nationality". Leave Hindutva or any other religions for that matter out of the nationality concept, or India will be the next Israel. Patriotism comes from pride in culture. And culture is not just religion. One of the ways the Jewish fundamentalists try to propogate "Israel for Jews only" is by calling Judaism a nationality, not only a religion. And then we wonder why there is so much unrest in Israel.

Date sent: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 12:31:02 -0500
From: "Yogesh N. Rathi" <>
Subject: Talibanisation?

I think your personal dislike for the VHP has given way to this article. Some rough facts for you: the VHP has more than 1,000 schools and 500 hospitals running in tribal areas. Did you take into account these things before writing the article?


Date sent: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 17:26:52 PST
From: "Kaundinya Gopinath" <>
Subject: Talibanisation

People like you unleashed the wind! Now the time has come to reap the whirlwind!! Enjoy!!


Date sent: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 22:10:12 +0500
From: KL Viswanathan <>
Subject: Varsha Bhosle's column

Good prose. Great substance. Now what?!!!!! It is sad, the main media -- print and TV -- do not front-page such opinions.


Date sent: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 11:10:17 -0500
From: Ranjit Kohli <>
Subject: A recipe for Talibanisation

How sweet it is Varsha is joining the ranks of Hindu secularists! There is hope for India yet!

Date sent: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 08:06:11 -0800
From: "Astral Technologies Inc." <>
Subject: Varsha Bhosale's column on the BJP

Varsha is again right in pointing out what educated and cultured Indians want from the BJP. The conversion of Dangs happened because we Hindus do not care for each other. The Christians gave the Dangs things that helped them everyday and promptly converted them. The irony is that once Dangs tribals get educated then they will demand a seat under the "scheduled tribe quota", this will make them neither Christians nor Hindu Dangs.

The BJP gets itself into all kinds of troubles. The 'Bungling Janata Party' should get some modern-thinking intellectuals into the administrative arm and look at the long-term effects of its short-term policies.

The freedom of speech in all different possibilities should be actively protected by an arm of the central government. We need to have something like the US National Guards to intervene when the local police are hand in glove with politicians. The next thing that the BJP will do is enforce the ghungat on all the ladies.

Date sent: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 14:45:14 PST
From: "Jay Bharat" <>
Subject: Talibanisation of India?

Another excellent article by Varsha. This article establishes what I have long understood -- that her true colours are moderate and she hates fundamentalism. She calls a spade a spade, and always presents well-researched and compelling arguments. This makes her controversial to extreme Right and ultra Left wingers, while the middle-of-the-road thinkers welcome her critiques.

She is entirely correct that the physical attack on the person and property of the Christian minority is an indefensible crime. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. While agreeing with her, there is one aspect of this sensitive situation that I hope does not go unnoticed. This being an impending danger of international vilification of India on this account, resulting in further economic hardship and even long-term territorial danger from powerful Christian countries (after all, there are some missile-happy countries out there). In this time of need, therefore, it is the moral duty of all Indian leaders, irrespective of party and persuasion to defend their country in the international fora. Only time will establish the genuineness or hypocrisy of the following:

The BJP: Will it have the necessary resolve to use force to stem the attacks and publish true statistics? Will it bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice? Will it accept the truth of Hinduism's belief that every person has his own dharma and should be allowed to practise it in complete freedom?

Sonia Gandhi: Being all of a Christian, a foreign-born woman and possibly our future PM, will she defend India's secularism vociferously to international leaders and defuse international criticism?

Christian leaders: Will they use foreign capital and political clout to continue their activities in India, or will they issue an edict to all their churches affirming the acceptance of all faiths as equal and asking them to renounce conversion by coercion? It would be a symbolic gesture which would win over the majority of the country.

The USA: Does not sanction Communist China for cruel repression of Tibetan religion and culture, as well suppression of other religions and free speech and action of significant numbers of its own population. Does not sanction Islamic countries even when they have for ages actively practised anti-minority-ism. Has its own brand of hate crimes. Would it stoop to the hypocrisy of sanctioning the ever-secular India on account of certain recent fringe group actions?

I suspect that the answers to all of the above will not show the respective entities in a positive light.

Varsha Bhosle

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